Monday, June 26, 2006

Bush Brings An iPod to Iraq

The new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki sat in a high-back bamboo chair holding the box that President George W. Bush handed him. Bush was sitting in a companion bamboo chair. There were heavily armed guards everywhere in the large room, with Iraqi and American political aides standing by.

"It's an iPod. Sixty gigabytes. I got you the black one. Open it," said Bush with the excitement of a kid at the base of a Christmas tree.

Maliki opened the box and undid the wrapping.

"Isn't it neat how Apple packages their stuff. They have the most awesome gadgets," said Bush.

Maliki looked up and smiled as he unwrapped the black iPod. He held it in his hands.

"I betcha that is the only iPod in Iraq," said Bush.

"Oh no. My nephew has one. It is white," said Maliki.

"Really. That's cool. You want me to help you turn it on?" asked Bush.

"I just did, and I am scrolling through the music," said Maliki.

"There's music on it already? Jeez, mine didn't come with music," said Bush.

"You have a sense of humor, Mr. President. The Dixie Chicks are on here," said Maliki.

"The what? You are joking," said Bush.

"Not Ready To Make Nice is a good song. My nephew downloaded it from iTunes," said Maliki.

"You Iraqis surprise me. I never figured country music would be big here," said Bush.

"No. No. We do not like country music. The Dixie Chicks are crossover, Mr. President. We like music that crosses over. The Middle East is filled with cultural crossover." said Maliki.

"Yes. Yes. Of course. Do you feel ready to face the media?" asked Bush.

"Have you heard Enya?" asked Maliki.

"Who?" asked Bush.

"An Irish singer. She composes all her own music. It is very new agey. Very beautiful," said Maliki.

"I will check her out. So let's get this show on the road," said Bush.

Bush stands. Maliki stands. They start to walk toward the double doors that lead down the hallway to where the video cameras, photographers, reporters and the rest of Earth’s media was waiting.

"Do you like Tom Petty? We like Free Falling. It is how we Iraquis feel. I like Tom Petty's voice," said Maliki.

"Yes. I haven't heard Free whatever," said Bush. "I haven't heard a lot of new stuff since becoming President," said Bush.

"He is not new, Mr. President. He is old like you and me," said Maliki. "I imagine though he has more women than us," said Maliki.

"I heard of Tom Petty. Jeez, am I silly, or what. Tom Petty and The Blackhearts, right?" asked Bush.

“No. You are thinking of Joan Jett. I read she is performing again and still looks good,” said Maliki.

“Americans know how to stay young, Mr. Prime Minister. Americans know how to stay young,” said President Bush as he and Prime Minister Maliki entered the large media room into the bright video lights and flashes popping off.

The Germans Focus On Bush, Not Ahmadinejad

Joschka Fischer, the leader of Germany's Green Party, was sitting in a large scuffed leather chair with fat arm rests faded from seventy years of hand rubbing. Fischer was amused that Adolf Hitler sat in this very chair during the 1938 Nuremberg Rally while officiating at one of his sit-down talks before the day's events began. The Nuremberg Rallies occurred every year from 1923 on, and the 1938 Rally was known as the Rally of Greater Germany since it occurred soon after the annexation of Austria. Oh how times have changed, thought Fischer. He now was holding a chat himself with Green Party officials in Berlin where the big leather chair was brought after World War II.

"You think Bush will come to the World Cup?" asked Hilda, one of Fischer's Green Party secretaries.

"He does not have the guts," said Fischer.

"We got word that he is considering it," said Martin, a Green Party Deputy.

"That would be a big opportunity to organize demonstrations. We can use the event to rally support," said Fischer.

"What about the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad. He says he is coming to the World Cup," asked Hilda.

"What about him?" said Fischer.

"Demonstrations. Rallies. A great organizing tool," said Hilda.

"Absolutely not," said Fischer.

'It would be counter-productive," said Josef, the Green Party's media consultant.

'The guy's a madman. We can get people to come out," said Hilda.

"The guy is not a madman. He is simply a clever politician. He hates Bush. We hate Bush. It would confuse our message to demonstrate against him," said Josef.

"I agree," said Fischer.

"Martin, what do you think," asked Hilda.

"Of course I agree with Mr. Fischer," said Martin.

"This does not make me comfortable. I feel that we are compromising ourelves," said Hilda.

"Hilda, Hilda, Hilda, you must understand politics. You must understand the shifting moods of Germany. The Iranian President speaks truths. Things we may not wish to hear, but he speaks truths," said Fischer.

"He denies what happened in the camps. He is a sick man," said Hilda.

"Hilda, the Iranian is not sick. He knows what he is doing. We would be wasting political capital demonstrating against him. We must use our resources against Bush. That will serve us better," said Fischer.

"I agree," said Martin.

"I know the media and the public, and Bush is the one to go after," said Josef.

"And so it is done. We hope Bush comes to the World Cup. Let us hope and pray," said Fischer as he rubbed his hands up and down the big fat arm rests of the Nuremberg leather chair.

Transcript of Kate Moss's OB/GYN Examination

The following is a transcript of an audio recording of a visit made by Kate Moss to her OB/GYN doctor when she was pregnant with Lila Grace, her daughter who was eventually born on September 29, 2002. Kate Moss was about five months pregnant at the time of the office visit. The hand-written notes to the audio transcript reveal that she was alone with a female doctor in an examination room. Kate Moss was lying on the examination table with her legs in stirrups. Based on the transcript, Kate Moss was smoking a cigarette during the examination.

Moss: What are you listening for?

Doctor: The baby's heartbeat.

Moss: You can hear it?

Doctor: Yes.

Moss: Cool.

Doctor: Kate you must stop this?

Moss: What?

Doctor: The smoking. Your baby's heart rate is a good forty percent faster than it should be.

Moss: Just because I am smoking?

Doctor: Yes.

Moss: So I will put it out.

Doctor: You should. My partners are not pleased I let you smoke in the clinic.

Moss: I'll put it out.

Doctor: It is not just the fact that you are smoking at this moment. Your smoking in general significantly affects your baby's development.

Moss: My mother smoked and I am fine.

Doctor: There are studies.

Moss: I don't want to hear about it. I am healthy. Look at me. I am thin. I look good. I get paid to look good. I must be healthy. I am healthy.

Doctor: You smoke a carton of cigarettes a day.

Moss: That’s bullshit. A carton of cigarettes contains 200 cigarettes. The most I have ever smoked in a day is about 120.

Doctor: And usually you smoke what?

Moss: I don’t want to talk about this. Just finish the examination. I have to go.

Doctor: It will affect the baby’s brain development. It will affect the development of the heart and your baby's liver.

Moss: I am a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian. I do my part. So just shut up about it. The baby will grow up just fine.

Doctor: I heard you smoke like five packs a day, Kate.

Moss: Four. I smoke four packs a day. See, I am cutting back.

Doctor: You have any idea what that is doing to you, forget about your baby.

Moss: Shut up. Just shut up.

Doctor: Your baby is overdosing on nicotine.

Moss: Look, get this straight, this is none of your business. My cigarettes are my thing. And I don’t want to talk about it.

Doctor: OK. OK.

Moss: Just finish the examination. And because of this bullshit, I am going to finish this cigarette. And I don't want to hear another fucking thing about my smoking. I am just fine. I am just fine.

Alec Baldwin Confronts Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger was wearing a white satin bathrobe and nothing else. She was barefoot, having emerged from the wall-to-wall pink tumbled marble tiled shower that was the size of a small Manhattan condominium. The shower had a window that overlooked lower Beverly Hills and Century City beyond. The two triangular buildings of Century City comprising the ABC Entertainment Center were twinkling in the dark blue light of an unusually clear Los Angeles evening. Basinger was patting down her wet blond hair in the spacious bathroom with three sinks, his, hers and god knows what the third sink was for. Typical Beverly Hills excess, the real estate broker admitted when Basinger bought the house a few years ago. It wasn't the only excess in the house. The gymnasium, the recording studio (which Basinger didn’t use), the screening room (which Basinger used to watch the Today Show), the lap pool, the exterior pool, the tennis court, the tree house, and the hidden bars in each of the six bedrooms; even Ireland's bedroom had a hidden bar. Ireland was Basinger's ten-year old daughter she had with Alec Baldwin, a name she preferred not to think of. Of course, Ireland's hidden bar was stocked with soy packs and bottled water as well as a stack of Tofutti Cuties, not alcohol. That is not to say that the other bars did not have alcohol. Wine, actually, was Basinger’s preferred drink, and bottles of the stuff were in all the hidden bars. Pinot Grigio is what Basinger really liked. But she had to watch it. It tended to go to her head in a way that you don’t want to know.

Basinger was home alone tonight because Baldwin was visiting with Ireland, an arrangement she had been fighting in court because she was convinced that Baldwin was trying to turn Ireland against her. Indeed, she was even successful at getting the court to order Alec Baldwin to see a court-appointed psychiatrist to determine with Baldwin in fact had such a proclivity. Baldwin remained a resident of New York, thank god, and so his visits were limited somewhat by distance. But Baldwin was almost weekly on a commercial flight back and forth, if not to see Ireland then to appear in court. Of course, the occasional movie had him in Los Angeles as well.

Frankly, it annoyed the shit out of Basinger that Baldwin was working more than she was. She had the Oscar, not Baldwin. And yet for some reason Baldwin had a pile of movie offers. Baldwin had made a career decision to work as an actor rather than be a movie star and the business strategy was paying off. Basinger refused to manage herself as anything less than a movie star, and her strategy had left her with little to show for it. Her money demands were significantly more than Baldwin's, and notwithstanding her Oscar and the obvious fact that she had kept in marvelous physical condition without plastic surgery, the offers were just not coming in. Out of shape Baldwin was getting offers. Gorgeous Basinger was not. Sexism, Basinger thought. Male actors can age and continue to get work. Look at Jack Nicholson, for chrissake. The guy smokes and drinks and is fat and totally out of shape, no doubt on heart medication, and he can work any fucking time he wants.

This did not please Basinger, and by now she had worked herself up into a lather of anger as she slipped on her tight blue jeans that, quite frankly, were not so tight because she was thin and taut, an accomplishment that seemed to have gone unnoticed for a fifty-two year old woman. Everyone swoons over Madonna. Big deal. Let them check out Kim Basinger, five years older than Madonna. Screw Madonna. Basinger got into a white tank top and walked out of the bathroom, barefoot, into her large bedroom and out into the long hallway that led to the staircase which curved down to the circular foyer of her Mission-style stone house. When she reached the top of the stairs, she looked down. Her eyes went wide and she froze.

"What the fuck--what the fuck are you doing here? And where's Ireland?" asked Basinger.

"She's at her friend's house. -- I came to talk to you," said Alec Baldwin.

"We have nothing to talk about," said Kim Basinger. Basinger stood there at the top of the stairs, afraid to come down and confront Alec Baldwin in close proximity. She preferred to keep him at a distance. Baldwin always seemed like he was capable of violence, always on the edge, though he never struck her nor threatened to do so. Indeed, when Basinger accused him of being potentially violent, Baldwin would brag that he held onto his violent potentiality because it was good for his acting, but that he would never act out on it because it would diffuse his work. Bullshit acting jibe, is what Basinger thought.

"Look, Kim, I have no interest in talking Ireland into anything but being positive in life, certainly not to turn her against you," said Baldwin. Baldwin was totally pissed off that the court had ordered him to see a psychologist to make a determination whether he was inclined to bad mouth Ireland's mother, but he decided to take the high road and try to appeal to his ex-wife personally and calmly.

"You are trespassing. This is breaking and entry," said Basinger.

"I didn't break anything. All I want to do is make peace, move on, for the better of us all," said Baldwin.

"Bullshit. You are trying to fucking trick me. You are trying to mess with my head. I am not going to let you mess with my head anymore, Alec. No fucking way," said Basinger.

Basinger was starting to lose it. She got this way whenever Ireland was with Alec Baldwin, and now with Alec Baldwin standing in her house, in the privacy of her home, Basinger's brain neurons were misfiring, causing her to lose control of her mouth.

It was ironic, Baldwin thought, that he was the one accused of potential violence when it was Basinger all along who made threats, threw objects in the air, broke dishes, hurled a vase once, and even slammed her car into a stone wall just two feet from where Baldwin was standing. But Baldwin never brought these incidents up in court. He knew that Basinger had had psychiatric problems in the past with her agoraphobia, and so he thought it unfair to use it against her.

"Get the fuck out of my house. Get the fuck out of here before I call the police. The judge is going to hear about this. The judge is going to hear about this. Sneaking into my home to accost me. Fuck, you are sick. You are sick. You should be locked up," said Basinger in one quick clip.
Baldwin was starting to regret the idea of having a normal conversation with Kim.

"Kim. Kim, please listen to me. Ireland suggested that I speak with you. She wants us to get along," said Baldwin.

"See. See. See. You are trying to turn her against me. You admit it. You admit it. You bastard. The judge is going to hear about this. The judge is going to hear about this," spewed Basinger as she started to walk down the long curved staircase holding the banister with both hands to avoid falling. Basinger on the banister, thought Baldwin. She was always on the banister, on the edge, about to explode. It was unharnessed turmoil that Basinger could use if she knew how to channel it into her acting with greater regularity and control. Baldwin always thought that Kim's best work was in the feature film Final Analysis where she played a psycho.

"I will leave if you want me to. I swear. I am not here to fight. I am here to connect," said Baldwin.
"Did you fucking hear me. Did you fucking goddamn here me you sick sack of shit. I want you to leave," said Basinger as she reached the bottom step.

"OK. OK. I'll leave. I'll leave. But really Kim, remember when we used to be able to talk," said Baldwin.

"I didn't get ugly. I left you because I had to. You hear me. Because I had to. And then you fucking take it personally. You take it personally. You got ugly with all sorts of shit. I did not get ugly. I felt bad. I felt bad. But you couldn't understand. You just couldn't have a little fucking compassion about what I was going through," yelled Basinger at a volume that was a bit loud to take.

Baldwin had to use a deep well of will power to either not laugh or not strike Basinger in the face with his fist. Of course, he would never hit her. But quite frankly, if anyone had brought him close to violence, it was Kim Basinger. But, unfortunately, in Baldwin's focus on not lashing out at Kim Basinger, a smile made its way to his face. Baldwin caught it too late.

"You're fucking laughing at me. You're laughing at me. You're laughing at me. You came here to mock me. To make fun of me. You think I am shit, don't you? You always thought you were better than me. Always. Like you had something to teach me. But get this fuckhead, I know more than you. I am wiser than you. I have more than you. I have more than you. And the fucking judge is going to hear about this. Now get the fuck out of here." Kim Basinger was now screaming and spitting saliva and shaking her arms.

"I'm leaving. I'm leaving," said Baldwin. Before he turned, Baldwin glanced at Kim and was reminded about how unbelievably beautiful Kim Basinger was. You would never know she was 52 years old. Kim’s body did not seem to have lost anything with time. If at all, she seemed to grow younger and stronger. A fleeting memory of Basinger’s wildness in bed, her almost animal-like sexual hunger gave Baldwin a tinge of saddness at the whole affair. The lost times, the missed moments. What was left was Ireland, their daughter.

"You are fucking damn straight you are leaving, you shit head," said Basinger, getting the last word in as Baldwin turned and caught a glimpse of Kim Basinger's Oscar statuette in a glass case hanging on the stone wall of the foyer. "I have more than you. I have more than you." Kim's words rang in Baldwin's head as he left the front door and gently closed it behind him, trying not show any anger.

Ann Coulter And Michael Moore Have Sex

Ann Coulter was on top, Michael Moore on the bottom. This is the way Ann preferred it. Michael did not have a choice because of his girth. How it came to pass that these two individuals would be having sex together is another story. It was a motel, a small one with dark green but faded shingles, a single story with twenty three rooms, numbered from two to twenty four, number one being the motel office. It was called the Bangor Motel. Simple. And appropriate since it was outside of Bangor, Maine. Michael liked the poetry of it. He kept thinking 'Bang Her' Motel, which is what he was doing at the moment, although Ann was working a lot harder than he was.

Ann looked down as she moved her hips rhythmically, glancing occasionally at the large mound of fat that moved like a bowl of red Jello. Michael Moore was not only fat, but he was very pale and somewhat hairy, blotched with red spots. Ann saw the red spots as Michael's circulatory system struggling to deliver blood to outlying areas, succeeding only at finding the places where the red spots congregated. Ann’s slender but tight muscular arms were extended, her palms moving from the white sheets of the bed to her thighs, and back again, avoiding touching Michael. There was a mirror above the headboard and Ann saw herself. Her breasts were a healthy size, small cantalopes, and although firm, they were undulating up and down with each of her movements. She liked her body, and as her thick long blond hair moved, it tickled her back. It made her smile, almost giggle.

Michael was glad to see Ann smiling. Good. She's enjoying it. He certainly was. He had never been to this part of Maine before, but there was something special that it gave him and that was a sense of peaceful isolation. And if you are going to be having a conjugal visit with Ann Coulter, it is best to be isolated, Michael thought. Michael reached out and grabbed Ann's waist, a hand on each side. Ann’s waist curved in to a size where Michael thought his finger tips could actually touch each other. A hard thin body. He thought this was typical of conservatives. Very worked out, like Schwarznegger. Liberals might be thin, but they were thin from organic food and twigs and berries. Conservatives ate what they wanted and consumed whatever they wanted and then tried to cover it all up with exercise. Dishonest, but damn Ann had nice arms and shoulders.

Ann's eyes went back into her head and her mouth opened, her breathing was harsh and noisy, grasping for oxygen as she shook and trembled. Michael also started to heave and he felt it. It came up his legs and into his thighs and it went down his belly and into his groin, meeting in one big explosion. Michael had almost forgotten what it was like. It had been so long, about three years actually. Four, five, six squirts of pleasure. Wow. Wow. Yes.

Ann reacted to Michael's pleasure and she screamed. Yes, it was a scream, that is how Michael heard it. He wondered if there was anyone in Room 18 which was immediately on the otherside of the wall behind him. Ann muted her scream. Well, it wasn’t really a scream. It was just noise, muffled, channeled, controlled.

Ann went limp and fell to the bed. Michael's body was taking up most of the real estate, so Ann fell to a sliver of bedsheets to Michael's left. Ann was on her side, but she made the mistake of falling on her right side, facing a wall of white hairy flesh. A wall of Michael.

Ann Coulter and Michael Moore lied together in Room 17 of the Bangor Motel for several minutes without talking. Ann then pushed herself off the bed, stood and stretched. Michael watched Ann massage her arms and tight body with her long fingers, working the blood, her blond hair wet with sweat hung down almost to her waist.

"I'm taking a shower. Then we'll have dinner," said Ann.

Giving directions, thought Michael. Typical. He was hungry too. Dinner would be good. But he didn't think it appropriate he join Ann in the shower. He would wash up afterwards.

It was a diner on Route 15 a few miles south of Six Mile Falls, Maine, north of Bangor. Ann Coulter sat in a booth and she wondered how Michael Moore could possibly have maneuvered himself onto the bench on the opposite side from her given his enormous size. But Michael seemed comfortable in his fat body, moving with ease as if he were a thin man trapped inside. But it was clear to her why Michael was fat: his appetite. He had a stack of pancakes, two orders, eight cakes highs, with whipped cream and strawberries on top. They were the kind of pancakes that were each a half inch thick. Michael popped a strawberry in his mouth and then proceeded to pour half a jar of maple syrup on top of the mountain of carbohydrates.

"Good strawberries," said Michael.

It was about ten minutes short of 9:00 PM and the diner was half filled with locals, mostly guys in flannel shirts with jackets stuffed to their sides on the seats. But for the three waitresses, Ann Coulter was the only woman in the diner. Her black tight blouse and black leather jacket over a short black skirt was too upscale for this venue, but she was wearing hiking boots with white socks that made her legs seem even longer and thinner than they already were. Plus she was sitting with fat Michael Moore who looked blue collar with his denim shirt and blue jeans. Michael seemed to provide cover for Ann who didn’t wish to stand out in this crowd.

Ann was sipping onion soup on this chilly Maine evening.

"How's the onion soup?" asked Michael. By this point Michael had devoured a third of the stack of pancakes.

Ann thought Michael was angling for trying some of her soup. She would have none of that.

"So this was interesting, today that is, back at the motel," said Ann.

"Yeah. It was great," said Michael.

"I'm sure," said Ann.

"You're sure about what?" asked Michael.

"I'm sure it was great for you," said Ann.

"Babes, you were screaming with pleasure. I think that is an accurate description," said Michael.

"I was acting," said Ann.

"You are not that good an actress," said Michael.

“Well, you see, you can never know, for certain, can you. With a woman, that is. But you on the other hand. I have evidence inside me that you had a rip roaring time," said Ann. The thought of Michael’s semen inside would have made her nauseated, but she had come to terms with the temporary intrusion. She hoped most of the Michael Moore ejaculation was removed with the shower she took. But, even so, her diaphram was firmly in place, thank you Jesus.

"I can have a rip roaring time with my palm, Ann," said Michael, though he knew he had not done so in years, maybe even a decade.

"Well, I am not surprised that you are happy to be achieving pleasure just with yourself," said Ann.
"So what are you saying about the acting thing? Why would you act?" asked Michael.

Ann did not know how to answer this question because in fact she was not acting. Having sex with Michael Moore was simply a vehicle for achieving an orgasm. To Ann it was an adventuresome and reckless means of possessing a throbbing and living dildo, which was amusingly attached to a big fat liberal. But that did not matter, did it. A throbbing organ is a throbbing organ whether it is attached to a Communist or a Fascist or an illegal alien. The important thing is that she did her research, as always, and Room 17 of the Bangor Motel had a large mirror over the headboard. And it was that mirror and feeling her long hair on her back and the site of her pencil-thin arms and firm breasts that gave her pleasure. Maybe she did scream. But it had nothing to do with Michael Moore, except possibly for the mere fact that she was dominating a loudmouth liberal while watching herself. She liked watching herself. She had cultivated her body with the care of a Renaissance sculptor, mostly using the tool of starvation, and examining her body while having a stand-in surrogate erect penis throbbing inside was enough to make her scream; yes, scream with pleasure. She found it curious that fat men do not have fat penises.

"OK. OK. It was not an act, Michael. I loved every minute of it," said Ann.

"You're patronizing me," said Michael.

"Whatever," said Ann.

"You know I have the whole thing on tape,' said Michael.

"What?" said Ann as she spit out a spoonful of onion soup.

"That mirror above the bed is a two-way mirror. I had a camera going the whole time," said Michael.
"You did not. You did not," said Ann, thinking Michael was just being provocative.

"I did my research. I paid Joe Bean, the Bangor Motel proprietor, several thousand dollars to retrofit Room 18 with a camera, cutting a hole in the wall, and installing that two-way mirror in Room 17," said Michael.

The details made Ann nervous. She chose the Bangor Motel. She did her research. But maybe she made a mistake of telling Michael Moore where to meet a week in advance. Was a week enough time for Michael Moore to make all these arrangements, pay people off and do construction? And when she called the Bangor Motel she did recall speaking with a Joe. Damn.

"So you have video of me, like from what, the waist up?" asked Ann.

"I have not checked the video. I think it might catch the top of my belly, which means the video includes a shot below your waist, below your belly button, god knows how low it goes," said Michael. How low can he go, thought Michael. He snickered to himself.

"But you do not have permission to use my image," said Ann.

"I am a journalist. I am doing a documentary on the sexual lives of conservatives. I can use it," said Michael.

Ann Coulter absorbed this information; but Ann was not about to show this asshole that she was concerned or upset. Anyway, she looked great. She saw how great she looked. The lighting was subdued. It would be all over the internet. And it would just create more buzz about Ann Coulter. Good buzz, because she was hot. Indeed, she would even watch it. She would get to watch it all over again. And wouldn’t that be a trip.

"Can I have a bite of your pancakes? asked Ann.

"Sure," said Michael.

Ann reached over with her fork, cut a stack with the side of her fork and jabbed a forkful wedge of pancakes, swapping up a pool of maple syrup. She placed it in her mouth, carefully, not permitting any residue on her lips.

"Good, huh?" Said Michael.

"Very good. Very good," said Ann.

Another Ford Motor Company Fantasy

Ron Gettelfinger sat in one of the two wood chairs in front of the simple oak desk of William Clay Ford, Jr. The desk was the same one used by Henry Ford eighty years ago. William had it restored. William was adjusting himself in his large smooth red leather office chair. The difference in chair sizes did not escape Ron Gettelfinger. Since becoming President of the United Automobile Workers, he had met with all the big three car companies. But this meeting was unusual. Ford called him personally and said he had something important to discuss in private.

"You are in a bind, Ron," said Ford.

"How so?" asked Gettelfinger.

"We have set ourselves up for failure. Your members cannot be sustained at their current living standard because my company is going to go bankrupt and everyone loses," said Ford.

"If this is going to be about how you will file bankruptcy if I do not make concessions, then I suggest we end this meeting right now," said Gettelfinger. Gettelfinger suspected that this might be just another one of those empty threats that have been made for decades by automotive executives. But Ford usually took the back seat, waiting for General Motors to throw out trial balloons.

"You are not hearing me. I said we are all going to go down. Your members, my company, the shareholders, maybe even the United States of America. I don't fucking know how far this will reach. All I know is that you and I have to change something. And we have to do it now," said Ford.

"I am bored already, Bill," said Gettelfinger.

"What if I tell you that I want to cancel all our union contracts and replace them with something else," said Ford.

"I would say you are crazy," said Gettelfinger.

"We are partners, Ron. Your members, my shareholders, our company, we are all partners in this enterprise. Do you see us as partners?" asked Ford.

"Of course," said Gettelfinger. What was he going to say. Adversarial discourse was kept hidden with words of cooperation. The car companies and union had always referred to themselves as parters, at least for the last three decades.

'I plan to offer your members one hundred thousand shares of Ford Motor Company common stock for each full year that a member has worked for Ford. Plus, I propose to offer one million shares of Ford common stock for each member in retirement for each year that they have been in retirement. And I propose to keep issuing the stock for a five year period following the termination of all union contracts," said Ford.

The offer stunned Gettelfinger. He did not know what to make of it.

"Your shareholders would never permit you to do that," said Gettelfinger.

"That is my job. To sell it to them. Your job is to sell it to your members," said Ford.

"I'm not sure I want to sell it to them. The issuance will dilute the stock, the value of the stock will plummet, Wall Street will hate you for it," said Gettelfinger.

"All I want for in return from you is for your members to contribute fifty percent to their health insurance premiums, and to move all pension assets to 401ks. Plus, no longer will Ford pay salaries for workers dismissed. But Ford will make matching contributions with each paycheck to the 401ks, but the control over the pension moneys becomes the responsibility of your members. It is off Ford's books," said Ford.

"I cannot assess the offer. Is GM willing to make this offer?" asked Gettelfinger.

"I don't care what GM does. I no longer consider GM an example for how to manage my business. This is an offer from the Ford Motor Company to move your members and our company into the 21st Century," said Ford.

"I cannot assess the offer," said Gettelfinger.

'Of course. I will put it in writing. It will be spelled out. But it is something we must do, or else your union and my company will become irrelevant," said Ford.

"There might be other ways," said Gettelfinger.

"Possibly. But I have not heard any other way as of today. So as of today, this is what we have to work on. And Ron, we have to work on it. Otherwise we are dead men. You understand me. My offer makes us true partners. Not bullshit partners," said Ford.

"Dead men?" said Gettelfinger.

"As dead as the Edsel," said Ford. "As dead as the Edsel. So we are either real partners, or we are dead."

There. Ford said it. The offer hung in the air. Gettelfinger was lost. Ford felt a little lost too. But this was a new world. Sort of like how Great Grandpa confronted the 20th Century, he now was confronting the 21st.

A Ford Motor Company Fantasy

William Clay Ford, Jr. sat at the head of the forty foot polished mahogany conference table at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Sitting around the table were many of Ford Motor Company's Board of Directors, including Sir John Bond, Stephen Butler, Richard Manoogian, John Thornton, Kimberly Casiano, Ellen Marram, Homer Neal, Irvine Hockaday, Jorma Ollila, Marie-Josee Kravis and Edsel B. Ford II. This was not an official board meeting, so it was unusual that so many members of the board were present. This collection of people was not necessarily automobile heavy-weights. In fact, as is true with many corporations, the Ford Board was filled with people from varied backgrounds, from greeting cards and finance to cell phones and home improvement products. This was the Board that was going to take the car company into the 21st Century. One thing was lucky for certain, William Clay Ford, Jr. thought, was that he was an automobile guy. His whole family was built on automobiles, and he was there to protect the family name as well as a major international corporation.

Richard Parry-Jones, the Chief Technical Officer of Ford Motor Company, sat at the opposite end of the conference room table facing across forty feet of mahogany William Clay Ford, Jr. Parry-Jones was there because the buck stopped with him on all engineering issues, though he seldom got involved with technical issues notwithstanding his title.

"The Ford Five Hundred has been a failure," said Ford.

"It's a beautiful car, Mr. Ford," said Parry-Jones.

"I want to concentrate our engineering and marketing effort on a new Ford Five Hundred like we did with the Taurus. Like Toyota does with the Camry and Honda does with the Accord," said Ford.

"OK," said Parry-Jones.

"The Ford Five Hundred is a big roomy car without being too big. It is nearly a perfect blend of style and comfort," said Ford.

"Yes, I agree. So to describe it as a failure is not accurate," said Parry-Jones.

"It's a failure because it is not exciting. It does not serve the company, it does not serve our dealers, it does not serve our potential customers and it does not serve our nation," said Ford.

"I was not aware we were in the business of serving our nation," said Parry-Jones as he scanned the room for sympathy. Most at the table kept their eyes low, refusing to betray their sympathies.

"I want a Ford Five Hundred to get fifty miles to the gallon in the city, and I want it for model year 2008," said Ford.

"That is not possible, Mr. Ford," said Parry-Jones.

"Excuse me?" said Ford.

"Not even the Toyota Prius gets fifty in the city," said Parry-Jones.

"You’re telling me Ford cannot do better than Toyota? Is that what you are telling me? Because I know that is not what you are telling me,” said Ford.

"OK. OK. SO we can do better. But it would bankrupt us to develop the technology so quickly," said Parry-Jones.

"I don't believe that. And even if true, it hardly matters. We are already bankrupt for all intents and purposes," said Ford. Everyone in the room glanced at Ford when the word bankruptcy was used in the board room.

“Do you propose we do this with hybrid technology or something else?" said Parry-Jones.

“I don’t give a shit how we do it. I want fifty in the city for the Ford Five Hundred. And I want it by 2008,” said Ford.

“Well, sir, may I suggest we pick a more achievable standard, say forty miles per gallon on the highway,” said Parry-Jones.

"Not an option. The Ford Five Hundred will do fifty in the city for model year 2008 with you or without you, Mr. Parry-Jones. That is how this company must now operate. We do not have the option to do anything less than achieving the unachievable. We must make possible what is impossible. We did it at the beginning of World War II. We did it with the space program,” said Ford.

“We had nothing to do with the space program, sir,” said Parry-Jones.

William Clay Ford, Jr. was growing impatient. He anticiupated this resistance.

“So tell me, Mr. Parry-Jones, are you remaining on our payroll or not?" asked Ford.

It felt good to say it. No more bullshitting around. No more fearing the obstacles. It was time to take risks. It was time to move the company and the nation in a new direction. The Ford name was at stake. The company was at stake. And now Ford believed the nation was at stake, possibly humanity. And he was not going to let an engineer tell him something could not be done. The impossible must be made possible. And now. There was no time.

“You’re fired, Mr. Parry-Jones,” said Ford. “Bring in the other engineering executives,” said Ford.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Jerry Seinfeld’s Granddaughter Visits Jerry’s Grave

Lila Seinfeld had relied on her electric boat’s autopilot to find the correct location. She had done this before several times that it was committed to memory: latitude 40.963 and longitude -72.185. Lila sat in the captain’s chair of the rented fishing rig which she had reserved a week before at the Hartford Harbor Marina. Hartford, Connecticut was one of the most active sea ports with a large bay and deep water, not to mention that several rail lines intersected at Hartford.

But today, Lila was going way out to sea to lay a wreathe over where her grandfather’s estate and gravesite were, buried 63 feet below the surface of the water. She first came to this spot ten years ago on a scuba trip to examine the former beachfront house on a street once called Further Lane in a town once called East Hampton. Her grandfather, Jerry Seinfeld, had unexpectedly died before Greenland melted and so never knew what was to be.

When the ice started to melt in 2038, it took only seven years for the whole process to run its course. Of course, no one knew that it was going to be only seven years of rising oceans and lost land, and so panic set in, people moving to high places, mountain cities sprouting over night. The Catskills of New York, the Rockies of Colorado, the Sierra Nevadas of California, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, not to mention any high ground inland. But things have settled down. No more ice was melting and hadn’t since 2045.

It was now 2091 and the planet was settling into a new golden age. People were adjusting to the new environment, both physical and economic, and this was due to several factors, including the widespread use of hydrogen energy, an unlimited energy source, the stability of the earth’s weather, the sinking of most of the Middle East under water, all of which seemed to feed into a sense of peace. The big ice melt also had a tendency to bring the world’s myriad cultures together to try to save the planet. The first century of the new millennium was a tough century, starting off real bad and getting worse for a good sixty years. But now just nine years shy of 2100, the planet was at peace.

Except Lila Seinfeld was not happy. Congress had finally passed legislation that federalized all property under water that was formerly above water. So title to her grandfather’s East Hampton estate was now clearly not in Lila Seinfeld’s name. This included any personal property that might be under water, though this matter was moot since underwater looters had already cleaned out all the formerly great estates and towns and cities. But it did spawn a whole new industry of underwater salvage, and her father, Jerry Seinfeld’s son, had the foresight to not only invest in the salvage business but also to utilize his salvage investments to rescue most of everything in East Hampton. Except for one thing. His father’s grave.

Jerry Seinfeld was very specific about where he was to be buried, and though he had spent most of his time in Maine, considered now in the later part of this first century to be one of the most beautiful regions in the world, Jerry wanted to be buried on his estate in East Hampton. He died at the age of 74 in 2028 from a brain aneurism that developed as he hiked up Mount Katahdin in Maine. He made it all the way to the summit and then dropped dead. It was seen as a sign, confirming to many that Maine was a spiritual place. His body though was whisked away and buried according to Jewish law as fast possible, with a small ceremony in East Hampton. That was 63 years ago, way before Lila was born.

But Lila had inherited much of the Seinfeld fortune through her father, and she felt a debt of gratitude and wonder at the source of it all. Lila had watched all the ’short movies’ her grandfather made, the old television series, and she had often wondered how someone could become so wealthy based on what she considered minor entertainments. But Lila was not about to question the source of her good fortune. Her grandfather was careful to invest, as well as her father, and so the fortune grew and grew, permitting Lila to own real estate in Hartford, one of the most expensive cities in the world, as well as Maine and a Montana ranch that was at a 4,000 foot elevation. Indeed, most real estate was still advertised by elevation, due to the formerly rising sea levels.

The GPS device in the boat’s autopilot started to buzz and the electric engine shut down. Lila had arrived at the spot directly above her grandfather’s grave. Her father had not salvaged the coffin because he thought it violated Jewish law. Lila did not know one way or another, but she knew that she was doing the right thing now. She picked up the sealed metal box which contained dried red roses and dropped it into the water. It sunk immediately.

“Thank you,” said Lila to herself.

Lila Seinfeld then turned the boat’s autopilot off, cranked up the electric engines and headed back to Hartford. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the water was glistening with blue sparkles.

What Really Happened On The Night Of The Bush-Gore Presidential Election

It was a few minutes short of midnight on November 7, 2000 and Al Gore was not pleased to be called from his hotel room and brought all the way to the White House by the Secret Service. He did not even have time to properly assemble his clothes. He was wearing blue jeans and a white shirt, not something he would want to be seen in on this dreadfully long election night.

When one of the secret service men opened the door to the Oval Office, Gore first saw Bill Clinton behind the Presidential desk, his feet clothed only in black socks which were crossed at the ankles up on the desktop and Bill Clinton’s large hands behind Clinton’s white-hair head. Sitting in front of the desk on one of the two guest chairs was George W. Bush who was wearing khaki slacks and shallow leather shoes and a white oxford shirt, which betrayed his New England roots.

“What’s this about?” asked Gore as he stepped into the Oval Office.

“Hey Al,” said Bush.

“Take a seat,” said President Clinton.

“That’s OK. Why are you guys here? Why am I here?” asked Gore.

“We have a little problem,” said Clinton.

“A little problem. Hah. This is a biggie,” said Bush.

“What’s the problem, Mr. President,” said Gore. Gore usually did not say ‘Mr. President,’ but he felt like he should in front of his election-night opponent Bush.

‘You better sit down there, Al, ’cause this is a biggie,” said Bush.

‘Let’s get to the point,” said Gore, who remained standing. He was not about to be taking orders from the Texan.

‘Let me just say it. The numbers you are seeing on the news, the election night returns are all bullshit,” said Clinton.

“I don’t understand,” said Gore.

“Wait to you hear this. This is like such a biggie. It makes me want to be president so bad,” said Bush.
Clinton glanced over at Bush and smiled.

“When the first numbers started coming in, I convened a small committee of officials from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI to re-configure all computer relays and switching equipment to correct the returns,” said Clinton.

“Correct the returns?” asked Gore.

“The real returns show Nader in the lead,” said Clinton.

“What? Can you say that again,” said Gore.

“I know it is hard to believe. Ralph Nader is wiping the floor with you guys. I guess people are fed up. They just don’t like either of you two,” said Clinton.

“But tell him. Tell him what you are doing. This is cool, Al. Wait to you hear this,” said Bush.
Clinton and Gore both briefly glance at Bush who was getting all excited, like a kid at a toy store the day before Christmas.

“We have electronically re-routed the return results through the Langley computers without anyone’s knowledge. And just so you know, we are generally spitting out numbers back at the electoral districts that track the polling statistics from the week before to avoid any risk that someone might think things are totally wrong,” said Clinton.

“But are you saying that if you just let the election run its course, Nader would be president?” asked Gore incredulously.

“You and George here would have already conceded if it wasn’t for my quick and decisive action,” said Clinton.

“See. See. Isn’t this cool that a president can do this. So much fun. It’s really awesome, don’t you think, Al,” said Bush. Gore and Clinton ignored Bush.

“But you cannot do this,” said Gore.

“Let’s dispense with the ethics lecture. We need to do this for the sake of the country. The country is better off in the hands of the Democrats or Republicans. President Ralph Nader would destroy the United States of America,” said Clinton.

“I’m not sure that’s so true,” said Gore.

“We have one problem though. Florida,” said Clinton.

“Problem,” said Gore.

“Yeah, the guys weren’t able to re-route Florida. It’s causing us headaches, but oddly, Nader is not doing well in Florida. Florida is really a toss-up between you two, so we lucked out,” said Clinton.

“So what’s the problem,” asked Gore.

“Well, the CIA guys sort of worked the program slightly in George’s favor, but the FBI guys are feeding numbers that are slightly in your favor, Al. It all makes me uncomfortable,” said Clinton.

“Uncomfortable. This is like the biggest cover-up in American history,” said Gore.

“It’s just so cool that we are sitting here doing this,” said Bush, who is again ignored.

‘Don’t get carried away, Al. We just need to make a decision who is going to win Florida. We need to decide this right now, and I propose a coin toss,” said Clinton.

“You see, the guy who wins Florida wins the election. Awesome, huh?” said Bush.

“I have an American Eagle $20 gold coin in my hand. I am going to toss it and let it land on the Presidential desk. George wants to call it, isn’t that right George?” asked Clinton.

“Yeah,” said Bush.

“Wait. Wait. This is moving too fast for me. This can’t be real,” said Gore.

“It’s real. This is how it is in the Oval Office. Things happen fast. I am tossing,” said Clinton, who flipped the coin in the air.

“Heads,” said Bush.

The coin landed on the table and twirled, slowly moving to the edge. Clinton, Gore and Bush kept their eyes on the twirling gold coin as it slowly settled down and stopped on the very edge of the table. The coin had the eagle facing up, the tails side up. But the $20 gold piece teetered precariously on the edge of the desk, it settled there briefly, as if suspended in time, and then fell to the thick carpet below. Bush rose quickly. Clinton ran around the side of the desk. Al Gore just remained standing, looking down at the gold coin which had flipped over with Lady Liberty facing up. Heads.

“Well, would you look at that,” said Clinton.

“Looks like I take Florida,” said Bush.

“It was tails on the desk and heads on the floor. Maybe we need a second toss,” said Clinton.

“Forget it. It’s heads,” said Bush.

“Maybe we should have defined the rules of the toss,” said Clinton.

“In Texas, you toss and wherever it lands is what you live with,” said Bush.

“What do you think, Al?” asked Clinton.

“I think this is so totally ridiculous. The country’s future turning on the toss of coin,” said Gore.

“Hey, man, it’s not any coin. It’s an American Eagle. It’s a $20 gold piece. Show a little respect,” said Bush.

“So it’s decided. We will throw Florida to you, George. That is if the CIA and FBI guys can work out a re-route of the Florida poll numbers so we can control events,” said Clinton.

“And if they can’t?” asked Gore.

“Well then, I just don’t know what will happen,” said Clinton.

Bush raised his voice: “Re-route the numbers. You’re president. You can do this, which is real cool, but it ain’t cool if you don’t do it,” said Bush as he walked to the door. “I’m out of here. Nice office. I’m going to like it,” said Bush as he left the room.

“You OK, Al,” asked Clinton.

“No. And I am not going along with this nonsense,” said Gore.

“We need a smooth transition. It’s good for the country,” said Clinton.

“Nader would be better than that asshole,” said Gore.

“Al, please. Calm down,” said Clinton.

“I’m going back to my hotel room. I don’t know what I am going to do. But I’ll tell you one thing, that coin was tails on the desk. On the presidential desk,” said Gore as he turned and left the room, leaving Clinton alone.

“Damn, I’m going to miss this job,” said Clinton to himself.

Inspired by my son, Max S. Bennett.

Bill Keller Sits In A Solid Old Chair

Bill Keller sat in a cherry-wood chair with arms and a dark green cracked leather seat. The chair was by itself near an old window in an old room of the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street in Manhattan. Everything was old in The New York Times Building, and sometimes this comforted Bill Keller, and at other times he hungered to get out of there and move to the new headquarters under construction on Eighth Avenue and 40th Street. Old versus new. His newspaper was under siege because he made the editorial decision to publish an article about the Federal Government’s program of reviewing all, or at least randomly, private financial transactions with the voluntary cooperation of banking institutions. The Federal Government’s examination of private financial transactions was not necessarily illegal. Indeed, it was arguably based on clear legal precedent, not to mention statutory authority. Indeed, when Keller first learned of the program, he was surprised that Federal officials mounted a major effort to convince him not to disclose the existence of the financial monitoring. Their argument was simple. They said that it took months, if not years, to convince the major banking institutions to cooperate in permitting Federal examiners to review all private financial transactions. In essence, the Federal government wanted the ability to sit down with the banks’ computers and look at everything, all transactions, major and minor, with names, addresses, past records, security information, source of funds, anything and everything the bank was privy to, the government wanted to be privy to. The Feds argued that the banks were essentially disclosing information that their customers arguably would consider confidential, and so the banks were obviously skittish. It would be bad public relations for them to admit to their banking clients that their financial lives were an open book to the Federal government. Disclosure of the program, so the Feds argued to Bill Keller, would scare off the banks and terminate their cooperation. The argument was spearheaded by John Negroponte, the National Intelligence Director.

Bill Keller heard the argument. He felt that the argument was not bullshit, that the Feds were being upfront about the reason, which made him inclined to respect their advice. Indeed, it was an ‘Old School’ instinct to balance the various concerns, both public and private, government and journalistic. The old building he was in, with the piles of paper that The New York Times still created in this digital world gave Bill Keller a sense of moving forward with prudence. The ‘New School’ had nothing to do with prudence. The internet had made everything an open book. And no one cared about balancing anything. If it was there, and someone had access to it, it would end up on the internet. The digital age had made Bill Keller’s job more difficult. He now had to keep an eye on the internet, holding back as long he thought it proper, but only when he thought it proper. His governing rule was to try to come up with a reason not to publish, not to disclose. And quite frankly, even with ‘Old School’ thinking, the skittishness of banks was not a good reason to withhold information. If the banks were skittish, they were skittish for a reason. If the banks were compromising people’s financial transactions, then of course they would be skittish. People should know. The government should pass legislation giving the Feds the right to make the banks disclose, taking the burden off the banks and letting the public know that when they transact money, someone will be looking.

So ‘Old School’ Bill Keller decided to go with the story and publish the article. The phone was ringing off the hook. People were calling for his head. People were threatening to punish The New York Times.

Bill Keller thought about the old building he was in. He would miss it. Next year, he would be moving into one of the most high-tech facilities in the world, the most connected, the most digital, the most highly linked up information center on the planet, and he wondered if he would be able to hold onto his ‘Old School’ philosophy. Why should he, he thought. Afterall, look where it got him this morning. But then, this was also news.

Blood: The Alternative Energy

The Muslim boy sat with his father on a Gaza beach. The white sand around the father was red from the blood that was blasted from the father’s body from a stray Israeli bomb. The Muslim boy was eight years old.

The Jewish boy sat with his father on a street in Tel Aviv. The black asphalt around the father was glistening dark red from the blood that was blasted from the father’s body from a Palestinian bomb that had been placed in a park car. The Jewish boy was eight years old.

The Muslim boy watched the two men lift his father onto a stretcher and cover him with a white sheet. The two men walked away with the stretcher and left the Muslim boy on the beach with the red sand.

The Jewish boy watched two men lift his father onto a stretcher and cover him in a white sheet. The two men walked away with the stretcher and left the Jewish boy on the street with the glistening red asphalt.

The Muslim boy stood and faced the afternoon sun that hung over the blue Mediterranean water. He took a deep breath and thanked God that the death of his father had now given him purpose.

The Jewish boy stood and faced the afternoon sun that hung over the tall buildings of Tel Aviv. He took a deep breath and thanked God that the death of his father had now given him purpose.

The Muslim boy and the Jewish boy had once lead purposeless lives, playing soccer together, swimming in the sea together, drawing and writing together. But now into the void of empty lives, lives filled with nothing but shallow pursuits like sports and art, was placed the blood of their fathers, blood that was hot and wet and a combustible fuel that would outlast the oil fields of the Middle East. A fuel that represented what scientists claimed did not exist in nature: perpetual motion.